Here are some obvious things. The first things that I always start with, because they’re the most fun, are things that I’m interested in. My list of things that I’m interested in is actually quite broad.
I play guitar. At least I try to play guitar. I’m actually not a very good guitar player, but I wish to play guitar and I sing. I’m a little bit better singer than I am guitar player, but I really like both of those things. There’s lots of interesting stuff going on in the online guitar niche right now. There are lots of very lucrative guitar programs and so forth that you can have people sign up for. I could imagine building a fantastic website that commented on and reviewed all of these guitar programs and got affiliate commissions based on those reviews and ranked for all kinds of “learn how to play guitar” or even possibly “learn how to sing” keywords. Those are two things that I’m personally interested in. I’ve been in choirs all my life and I love music, so those are the kinds of things that I’m interested and that’s one example.
I have played darts for a long time and I happen to know that there are a lot of really high end things in the pub darts industry from really expensive horse hair dartboards to titanium shafted darts that are absolutely fantastic, custom flights (the wings that you put on the back of the dart). I love to play darts, that’s a fun thing that I like to do.
Obviously, I love to podcast. I should probably write a post that talks about all the podcasting equipment that I have. The microphone that I’m talking to you on right now is a Heil PR40, Bob Heil is a famous guy in the music industry. It’s a $400 microphone, maybe more depending on where you buy it. There are all kinds of equipment around that, compressors and noise gates, mixers and digital recorders, and vocal processors and preamps, and all that kind of stuff. I love to podcast and that’s a really explosive and exciting field right now, so that’s really interesting.
I’m an electronics geek, I absolutely love electronics. I’m a big Apple nerd, I have every piece of Apple gear there is on the planet. While electronics can be a very competitive space online, that’s very lucrative because it’s turning over all the time and there’s lots of interesting content there.
There are other kinds of electronics that I’m interested in, too. I have a really high end drone, the kind that takes down commercial aircraft that now I have to register with the FAA. In fact, you can go to MarkMason.com and see a drone video that I filmed. Home security and home automation are two other things that I’m very interested in.
I could totally see a niche website that was focused on home automation for Apple enthusiasts, really niched down. I could get really excited about writing reviews of all of this home automation equipment that has been coming out lately, Hue lights and automatic door locks, security stuff that ties into that and things that tell you whether or not your garage door is open and allow you to control it remotely, and cameras and all kinds of stuff that goes into home automation. I could really get excited about that kind of stuff.
I grew up hunting and there is a lot of opportunity in the hunting space. I will tell you, however, while online guns and ammo and knives can be a really interesting and lucrative space, sometimes it’s really hard or it can be harder because guns end up on the list of things that some advertisers don’t want to mess with, along with pornography and gambling and male enhancement drugs and stuff like that.
I have a general rule about things that I promote personally and you might consider this. I don’t like to promote anything that I would be embarrassed to tell my friends or my pastor about. If I can’t look my pastor in the eye and say, “I have this website ______,” I wouldn’t want to do that. So I don’t recommend that for me. You may not care, but I do.
That’s just a list of some of my many interests, there are more. I have an SUV and I’m interested in customizing that. There’s lots of stuff online that you can buy to customize these standard SUVs like Chevy Tahoes. Hand gun safes. I live in Texas, so if there’s a lot of gun talk here it’s because I’m from Texas. Organizers for the back and stuff for the engine. Automotive is a real opportunity and I could totally see writing articles about that.
There’s all that kind of stuff that I’m interested in, so that’s a long list of things that I am interested in and I know you are interested in a lot of stuff too. There are a lot of things that you could identify for yourself and I encourage you to do that. I think you should target about 20 things that you’re interested in that you think you might want to pursue a little bit.
Remember, these don’t have to be things that you’re already an expert in. They can just be things that you care about or that you’re interested in learning more about. That’s one of the reasons that I think you should pick something that you care about, because you’re going to invest some time in learning more about this niche.
Here’s another vector that you can go down. What about all the things in your life that annoy you that you would like to fix? For example, health problems. I don’t intend to go down through a list of my health problems with you, not all of them anyway, but I will give you a couple.
Like a Iot of you out there probably, I need to lose some weight. In fact, I need to lose probably 40 pounds. I’m six feet tall-ish and I weigh 245 pounds. I carry it pretty well I’m told, but according to my doctor I should weigh less than 200 pounds and she is getting more and more excited about the fact that I need to weigh less than 200 pounds. So I’m needing to get more serious about losing weight.
Weight loss is a very crowded niche, of course there are literally billions of customers out there. What am I? I’m a very busy over 40-year-old guy who is relatively sedentary. Why not think about having something related to weight loss and/or exercise for guys over 40 specifically? Not some generic thing, but specifically for guys over 40 who have 9:00 to 5:00 jobs and just don’t have time to exercise. That’s a place to go work and it’s something to consider.
I play sports, I play softball, and I’ve had a couple of really annoying sports injuries. One of the most annoying sports injuries that I have ever had in my life is planter fasciitis, which is this thing where the bottom of your foot where the arch of your foot is hurts so badly that sometimes you can’t even put on a shoe. You get up in the morning and you can’t walk. It’s very hard to play softball in those conditions.
It turns out that it’s really hard to treat and doctors aren’t very good at it. There’s a lot of home remedy stuff, a lot of Clickbank books, and some of them are actually pretty good, about home remedies for plantar fasciitis. Why not a website that teaches people how to take care of that?
My wife tells me that I snore. I don’t, but that’s what she says, I think she’s dreaming. There are a ton of home remedies and other things out there for snoring. I think there’s a lot of room in medical areas for somebody who would come in and instead of just trying to push the home remedy, which is not certified by the FDA or approved by any actual real doctor, for somebody to honestly say, “I’ve talked to doctors and doctors believe that this is a real thing and that you should try this in addition to or instead of going to the doctor. In some cases it works and it can save you a lot of money or it can solve the problem quickly and easily.”
I’m not talking about pushing some kind of snake oil thing that everybody agrees doesn’t work. I’m talking about actually trying to help people avoid a lot of medical bills in cases where you go out and do real research and figure out that this stuff actually matters.
I’ll give you another example, going back to weight loss. I think there is a lot of opportunity to go in and collect up some of this information about all of these low carb and Paleo type things and really try to understand the real medical science behind it and not just talk about all the empirical results. Everybody knows that if you only eat bacon and lettuce for six months that you’ll lose weight. What I’m talking about is getting at a more credible approach of what’s the why and what’s sensible and can you really help people.
I know I’ve said this many times, if you keep your focus on helping people rather than making money, a lot of times that’s going to work out for you really well. That’s the kind of focus that I think you want to have.
Another thing that’s not quite medical is shaving. Recently I have gotten involved in Harry’s Razors and there’s a bunch of competition out there. Maybe there’s room for a website that really digs in comparing these razor wars that you see on television and in ads where Harry’s Razors is going up against Gillette and is there a really a difference. Maybe there’s some way to really dig in to that. Harry’s and some of these other places have pretty good affiliate programs, so if you could really get traffic around razors you could probably make some pretty good money.
Other things that are slightly medical that are interesting are things like meditation. There are two things here. One is there are a lot of good Clickbank and other online resources around meditation, and I think meditation is a genuinely helpful thing that you can go do. In addition to that, there’s this thing on the market that’s a headband that you wear that will actually track your meditation, it’s kind of like a portable EEG machine. It will try and measure your brain calmness, the electrical impulses that are being generated by your brain, and try to gamify your meditation.
It’s something that you could make a pretty decent affiliate commission with if you were really helping people do a better job meditating. If meditating was helpful and one of the ways you were helping them was by recommending this device that no one had heard of before, that sounds like a pretty attractive approach and an attractive way to go about things. So that’s another idea in this sort of list of things that are troublesome in your life.
I know for a fact that you have a list of things that is driving you absolutely crazy on a day to day basis. Maybe you have trouble sleeping or you have sleep apnea, or you have an ankle problem or bad knees, something that you’re fighting. I guarantee you that if there is a problem that you have, there are resources out there on the internet that can help people with that problem, so you can start websites around those kinds of things by either journaling your experience or comparing products, or both, to really try to help people.
The next category of things is just a miscellaneous category of things that I see that I go, “Wow, that seems really cool.”
Here’s one that I’m seriously considering for the Late Night Niche Site; security guard training. You guys know my friend Pat was very successful with his Security Guard Training Headquarters site and I’ve often wondered whether or not that could be repeated with some other genre of training. That’s something that I see that is pretty neat and that’s something that I want to check out and see if there are other possibilities for that to be replicated in a similar training but totally different niche. Obviously I’m not going to go down the security guard path, that’s been done, but I’ve been thinking about doing something new in that regard.
There’s also this category of “as seen on TV” that falls in the list of things that I think are neat. I’ve heard of marketers who do this and they’re successful, they look for new products that are coming on infomercials and they know what’s going to happen is people are going the thing on TV, they’re going to forget about the website that was actually mentioned in the commercial, and they’re just going to go to Google and type in the name.
I’ll tell you this happened to me just the other day. For some reason we went through this brief period in Texas where we had a lot of those big horseflies all around outside and occasionally – maybe more than occasionally, daily one or two of them would get in the house. These flies don’t ever seem to land, they fly around, they’re really big, they drive the dogs crazy, they make a lot of noise, they want to fly around in the kitchen which totally grosses me out.
I saw an infomercial for something called Bug-a-Salt. Bug-a-Salt looks like a Nerf pump dart gun, one of those machine gun looking things, and it shoots salt. You fill it full of table salt, you pump it up, and then you can shoot a spray of salt, which is harmful to flies but not so harmful to anything else, and it’s kind of a safe way to kill flies in your house, and it’s fun too. It turns out that you could just Google Bug-a-Salt and if you do that you’ll find it, it’s totally cool.
I think there’s an opportunity when you see stuff like that on TV to go ahead and build an affiliate campaign around that and find out where that is being sold to capture some of that TV search traffic as it comes in from the TV commercials. The idea is those guys are spending millions or tens of millions of dollars advertising in the form of infomercials, why not siphon off some of that traffic. That’s an interesting thing to think about.
Another thing I like to think about is holidays. I’ve never done this, but I have friends who do this. Well, that’s not quite true, I started to do it one time with some kind of furry hamster many years ago, I can’t quite remember exactly what it was called. The idea is trying to anticipate what the most exciting Christmas toy is going to be and building a website around that prior to Christmas knowing that there are going to be so many people searching for that toy online that you’re bound to get some search traffic from that.
For 2015 it would have been BB8, the little droid from Star Wars. No doubt if you had been ranking a BB8 website that you would have made a fortune in Amazon commissions selling BB8 online with your review and all of the helpful information you had about all the different tricks BB8 could do. You would have made a fortune capturing the Christmas traffic.
The downside of that is of course these are typically not sustainable. You may get hot for awhile over one holiday, but then you’re going to be done. It’s one and done.
The other kind of holiday related niche that I hear people are making a lot of money in online is the Halloween costume niche. Apparently it’s relatively straightforward, especially for new costumes that are related to new movie characters and so forth, to actually rank for those at Halloween time and make some pretty good commissions using something like Amazon or one of the higher end Halloween affiliate programs to capitalize on that holiday traffic and make some money during the holidays. It’s a pretty cool approach.
Those are all in the list of things that I just think would be neat. At one point I thought it would be neat to have an e-cigarette affiliate website because on one of my trips to Asia I could see that e-cigarettes were coming and there was not going to be any stopping them. I think that was probably right, there are a lot of e-cigarette opportunities out there, but that falls into the category of something that I don’t really want to promote.
That’s just an example of something that you see on the street that looks pretty cool that seems like you ought to be able to successfully promote as an affiliate.
That’s it, really straightforward, stuff that you think you’re interested in or that you care about or know a lot about, stuff that’s bugging you, and other great ideas that you think you might have. Just make a list. Try to get 20 items from the first two categories and 10 from the third category. That third category is usually a little bit more limited for me. Keep your eyes open for items in that third category of neat stuff. When you’re in Target or Walmart or one of those sporting goods places or something like that. Look at your old credit card receipts, what have you bought online? If you’re buying something online, it’s likely that other people are buying that stuff online as well.
Make this list, try to get 50 items on your list. That’s your homework for this week if you want to play along. I’m making my list and I will post it on the blog. You’ve heard most of it on this episode and it will be in the show notes.
What we’re going to talk about next week is the criteria that we want to use to try and evaluate whether or not each of these 50 ideas would actually be viable for a niche site. Don’t worry about that right now. Right now you need the 50 ideas, 50 things that you could see yourself digging into and creating 20 or 50 pages of content on over time to try and create a really valuable website that people could learn something from if they came to it.
That’s sort of our goal, a 20 to 50 page website on this topic of something that you’ve bought, or something you care about, or that’s bugging you where there are products for sale. We’ll talk about that market validation piece next week.
Now back by popular demand, the Late Night Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie, starring my son Zachary, age 9.
Late Night Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie
This week we have a special guest here to read the fortune cookie. Say hello, Zachary Mason.
Mark: All right, Zachary is prepared to read the fortune cookie. It’s from an actual fortune cookie that I got while eating some yummy Chinese food, probably with Zach.
Zachary: Where? Tiananmen Wok?
Mark: Tiananmen Wok, the delivery place. What’s your favorite thing from there?
Zachary: Egg drop soup.
Mark: Lay it on us, read us the internet marketing fortune cookie.
Zachary: A friend or partner will be giving you needed information. Listen.
Mark: That almost certainly has to do with …
Mark: You think school, I think mastermind groups. It turns out that one of the best things you can do for your business is surround yourself with some likeminded people that you can talk through your ideas with, kind of like some friends that you trust.
Zachary: My friend did give me information at school.
Mark: So that makes sense to you, right? Sometimes the hard part is the last part, the listen part.
Zachary: Yes, definitely.
Mark: Sometimes they tell you something that you might not want to hear. In fact, we just recently had a mastermind call with Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answer Man, where we gave him some advice that he didn’t really want to hear. But in the end it worked out and it really helped his business.
Zachary: Most of the time it works out, but sometimes people just don’t listen.
Mark: That’s true, people don’t listen. Kind of like kids, sometimes kids don’t listen.
Mark: Yeah, that’s true.
Zachary: I just turned 9.
Mark: Congratulations, that was big stuff.
Internet Marketing Fortune Cookie, everything that you ever needed to know about internet marketing you can learn from fortune cookies. Did you know that?
Zachary: Yeah, kind of.
Mark: That’s crazy, right? You’ve been after me lately to read the lucky numbers and I haven’t been really doing that, but maybe you would like to read the lucky numbers.
Mark: We just had a huge billion dollar Powerball jackpot, so without further ado this week’s lucky numbers.
Zachary: This week’s lucky number are actually three-quarters my unlucky numbers; 14 – 16 – 19 – 23 – 31 – 34.
Mark: What do you mean they’re three-quarters of your unlucky numbers?
Zachary: Three-quarters of them are my unlucky numbers.
Mark: Interesting. Very complicated. Thank you very much, sir, I appreciate it.
Wrapping Things Up…
That wraps it up for this week. Don’t forget to do your homework of 50 different topic ideas. Don’t strain over it, just write down the things that pop in your head. I’m going to give you an easy way to screen those ideas and we’ll try to whittle it down to the best four or five over the next couple of weeks.
Until then, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic day.